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C of S minister quits Kirk to form new church

An Inverness minister is to leave the Church of Scotland earlier than originally planned and hopes to set up a new church in the city linked to a separate presbyterian denomination.

 






Rev. Peter Humphris

Peter HumphrisFollowing the Church of Scotland's failure to adhere to Biblical standards on sexuality at the Kirk's General Assembly last May, Rev. Peter Humphris has brought forward his retirement from the pastoral ministry at Kinmylies Church Inverness and now plans to establish a new congregation in a city-centre location.

In his letter to Inverness Church of Scotland Presbytery last Tuesday, Peter effectively resigned from the Kirk into which he was ordained as a minister thirty-six years ago in Nairn Old Church. Since then he served in Dundee for a period of twenty-four years before returning to the Highlands in 2001.

The Christian preacher and a fellow minister Rev. Dr. James Torrens are now pioneering a new Highland International Church in Inverness with the first service scheduled for Palm Sunday in a local hotel.

Rev. Dr. James Torrens and family
James TorrensJames served at Kinmylies Church during a summer placement in 2002 and at a later date took up his first charge in St. Rollox (Glasgow). He resigned that charge at the end of last year for the same reasons as his friend Peter.
Initially he will be leading the work of establishing the new congregation on a part-time basis, but will serve in a full-time capacity in due course along with fellow elders once these have been identified.

He hopes to move as a family with his wife Jane and their son and daughter to the Highland capital at the end of the current school year.

Any move to establish a new congregation is always an encouraging sign of 'life' and opens up fresh opportunities for the spread of the Gospel message. Speaking of the development Dr. Torrens states the new church in Inverness "will seek, with God’s help, to be an outward looking, disciple-making, kingdom-growing fellowship in this rapidly growing city."

A changed Church


In his address to the Presbytery ealier this week, Rev. Humphris affirmed his theological position regarding the uniqueness of Christ and the final authority of the Bible as being 'unchanged' since becoming a Christian forty-five years ago. Yet concerning the Church of Scotland, he continued:
 
"My conviction is that the denomination of which I have been a member for forty years, has moved (and is continuing to move) away from the standards and convictions it held when I first joined. Because of this, and with deep sadness, tonight’s Presbytery meeting will be my last, as I find myself no longer able to retain my membership of the Church of Scotland as a denomination.

The new 'church plant' in the city is to be linked with the International Presbyterian Church which has English- and Korean-speaking churches in England; and also one congregation in Romania. Additionally, the denomination – with American and Swiss roots – has church planters working in France, Italy, Belgium and Azerbaijan, with a view to establishing congregations in these countries.
It is highly probable that the new congregation will comprise some of those church members who have already left the Church of Scotland since last year's Assembly.

If as this current develoment suggests, new and vibrant fellowships develop outside of the Church of Scotland it will come as a welcome 'reverse' regarding the tragic deterioration in biblical standards within Scotland's national church.
Elsewhere a  'new work' in Aberdeen has now been established with a Trinity Church congregation formed by the minister and many of the elders and congregation who once comprised the 'granite' city's High Hilton Church of Scotland

The first service of the Highland International Church in Inverness is scheduled as follows:

The Castle Room Suite, Palace Hotel, Inverness
Palm Sunday 1 April 2012
11.00am to 12.30pm


Footnotes:
1. Click here for a summary report of the position within the Church of Scotland following the General Assembly in May 2011.
2. Since the 2011 General Assembly a growing number of clergy and congregations have been leaving the Church of Scotland, including ministers in Skye, Lochalsh, Tain and Aberdeen. Others in Aberdeen and Glasgow are actively planning to leave. (See side column for links.)
3. Normally when a Church of Scotland minister retires he 'stays on the books' and becomes part of whichever Presbytery he moves to in retirement. However in quitting the Church of Scotland, Rev. Humphris will now be free to develop the new congregation within the boundaries of an existing Church of Scotland parish. (Every location in Scotland is part of one parish kirk or another.)
4. Rev. Humphris can be seen in the following video welcoming Christians from across the Highlands on the occasion of a visit by former HTC lecturer Rev. Dr. Noel Due in 2010. (Click on 'arrow' to play.)

Sorry, your browser is unable to play this type of file. You can still download it


Christians Together, 09/02/2012

Feedback:
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Peter Carr 10/02/2012 10:33
Another church = opportunity for more church hopping!!!!
I am sure that they will attract the disgruntled, disaffected etc.

There is a story told of a Christian who was found shipwrecked all alone on a south sea island, he had been there for 10 years. His rescuers congratulated him on 3 well built shelters that he had carefully constructed over the years and asked what they were for.

The Christian said that the 1st was his home and the second his church were he worshipped every week. On asking him what the 3rd shelter was for, a little embarressed he replied "That is the church I used to go to"
John Parker (Guest) 10/02/2012 11:42
"Another church = opportunity for more church hopping!!!!"

That's one view. (Sounds like the sort of thing pastors/ministers say.)

Another view is that it creates another opportunity for outreach from a biblical base (rather than from the apostasy that is coming upon so many denominations and forcing true believers to move to different fellowships).
Peter Carr 10/02/2012 12:40
"That's one view. (Sounds like the sort of thing pastors/ministers say.)"

Not only is it a view, but also a sad reality. It is easier for some to move on rather than to work out biblically the issues!! :-(


GM (Guest) 10/02/2012 13:48
John,
I think you are mistaken. You can have too many churches - 2 churches, confessing the same doctrine, in the same place, when there's no practical limitation on them worshipping together (i.e. they can find a venue large enough), means one or both of these churches is struggling with Jesus command to have unity. The lack of space issue, is to my mind, the only way or organically plant new churches in the same location as existing works.

It is true that established churches should graciously work with new churches - but it's not fair to imply that anyone who questions the motives of new churches isn't so willing. It is healthy to question the motive of brothers when they demonstrably err. And it is possible to do that without assuming a position of self-righteous indignation. =)

The last thing I want to mention is that the arguement of "many church equates to many more opportunities for witness" is perhaps flawed. You only have as many opportunities to witness as you have Christians serving God - regardless of where they meet. Church services are first and foremost about worship - my problem is that with 15+ years of talking to people about this, the lack of unity is a bigger problem for people outside the church than a lack of opportunity for those of us inside the body of Christ.

Therefore, I am certain that the extent of a "witness" in say, for example Inverness City Centre, is more hindered by Christians who otherwise agree, being unable to worship together - than it might be helped by the seeming greater "opportunity" of more different meetings.

There's a growing body of evidence from the US that maltiplicity of churches simply means Christians move around more. Now, if you were mean-spirited you might call that mere sheep stealing. But even if you were very generous, you would have to admit that Christians simply moving from one congregation / denomination to another is hardly growth for the body of Christ.

It is harder, but more God-glorifying, to work out the issues that seem to prevent unity, than for Christian leaders to take the easy option and live apart.

Hence, even being very generous to Peter Humphris and James Torrens, (who are men of great integrity, and gospel commitment, are great preachers, and men I am sure I would love dearly were i to know them personally) I do think this "new church" is a mistake, and is second best to a much harder thing. It may be the New Wine, but it's not the best vintage God has in his celler.
Editor 10/02/2012 15:38
"It is harder, but more God-glorifying, to work out the issues that seem to prevent unity, than for Christian leaders to take the easy option and live apart."

Please visit the 'Related articles' links (on this page and elsewhere) to see the background to all of this. Bible-faithful men and women have been trying for decades to get the Church of Scotland back onto a biblical line. The General Assembly of last May 'crossed a line' in allowing practising homosexual clergy to stay in post.

Those ministers who have left (with perhaps more to come) have come to a view that they cannot sit or minister under the authority of a denomination which has abandoned the ultimate authority of God's word.

Part of the trouble in any discussion about 'churches' is that the prevailing mindset is fixed on buildings, clergy, denominations. A church (in the true biblical sense) is any gathering of true believers. And you can never have too much of that (Heb 10:25 et al).

Those believers (whether clergy, elders, members) who have taken a stand and departed from gross error should be commended not criticised for their courage and convictions. Many have paid (and are paying) a very high price for leaving what is essentially one of the most secure and relatively comfortable 'employment' situations in our land (a C of S clergyman has, with all benefits included, in income equivalent to over £40,000 per annum.)

As for 'Christians move around more' then praise the Lord for that. That's what they did in the early church (Acts 5:42). There are far too many authoritarian leaders who want to corral believers (and their givings) in their particular building, denomination, doctrinaire preferences.

The sheep belong to the Shepherd; not to under-shepherds. And they need to be fed on fresh pastures which they will not so easily find under 'blind guides'.

Peter Carr 10/02/2012 16:37
Ed,

Let us not assume that the reason that Christians move around is only down to poor under-shepherds! The reason(s) in my experience that far too many move around are many, but here are some that should be considered as valid;

1. We live in an entertainment culture, which has sadly also seeped into the Church. If people are not getting their desired level of entertainment on a Sunday morning, they will quickly move on seeking it elsewhere.

2. Lack of willingness to submit to godly leadership and authority. Yes the sheep belong to the Good Shepherd, but it is He (and not we) who places the under-shepherds in the Church!!

3. Some find it easier to move on rather than confront their own sinful behaviour, conduct and attitudes in light of biblical counsel and instruction.

4. We live in a culture (all too evident in our churches also) where people lack a sense of loyalty and stickability, hence church membership is no longer a given for many.

Yes, there are cases of poor or inadequate shepherding, but the sheep themselves can be obstinate, lack discipline, lack desire for growth, lack desire to take God and His word seriously - and it is becoming a bigger problem than many will admit!! (2 Tim 4: 1 - 5)
Editor 10/02/2012 17:04
"Let us not assume that the reason that Christians move around is only down to poor under-shepherds!"

I don't. And I hope to have an article soon on some of these points. By the same token please don't assume that all believers who find fellowship wherever they can - as many are obliged to nowadays - are footloose immature believers. In fact for many years now I have come across mature believers who are increasingly unhappy with traditional models - many of which fail to operate by NT standards.

It was to mainly to cater for this constituency that the article 'What to look for in a church' was published.
See - http://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/155046/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/Christian_Survival_Resource/What_to_look.aspx

It has become one of the most-accessed articles on the site.

I also hope to have an article on some of the many new groups of believers that are forming in new models of fellowshipping together - in towns, the city and villages.
Peter Carr 10/02/2012 17:32
Point taken Ed,

But I fear that your website is becoming more anti-clergy in its approach!!
GM (Guest) 10/02/2012 17:50
Editor,

I think you're choosing to read what I've said very selectively. The courage to leave the CofS is undeniable, but the truth is that most Christians follow where Christ's appoint undershepherd lead them. If these undershepherds aren't exploring union with existing groups when they leave one denomination, this a shame. That doesn't question their commitment to the Gospel, or thier zeal... but it does lead to the situation where there are a lot of churches.

Maybe my point about Christians moving around a lot wasn't clear enough - they don't move house, they move church - for all the reasons Peter's mentioned. Again, that lack of commitment to a local church - but the easy flipping from one place to another depending on little more than taste - is really far from the example of the NT church.

And I don't say any of that out of an anti-clerical spirit, but I think we need to hold Church Leaders to a far higher standard, and lovingly (for the sake of the whole Church) be prepared to raise these points. So far, in discussion with more than one of these new churches, I've had no answer to the question of "Why not go with an existing group" other than, "it would be too difficult." Well, I'm sorry, but that's not good enough.

Like I said in conclusion last time - which I think you didn't notice - I've no doubt they have the New Wine (the Gospel) but their bottle perhaps isn't the finest vintage in the Lord's celler.
Editor 10/02/2012 18:10
Peter, the problem is not 'Clergy' its 'Clericalism' which produces all sorts of problems; for 'clergy' and 'laity'. If we (in our churches) get back to ever-member ministry in the priesthood of all believers we will be a lot better off.

GM "If these undershepherds aren't exploring union with existing groups when they leave one denomination, this a shame."

If you are referring to the article it says: "...will seek, with God’s help, to be an outward looking, disciple-making, kingdom-growing fellowship..."
That doesn't speak of introversion.

It is my experience that new groups are (mainly) very ready to fellowship with others; but not just be absorbed by them. It's established groupings that tend to feel 'threatened' by the 'new kids on the block' and employ pejorative terms like 'sheep-stealing' and 'church-hopping'.

We are living in a time of great flux. I do believe that God is dismantling the status quo. God's people in the desert had to move in obedience to the pillars of cloud and fire; it's no different today. And a friend who is a revival historian tells me that often the greatest opposition to any new move of God emanates from the product of the previous one.

Incidentally, it is the experience of most that true, meaningful and deep relationships can only be formed in groups of very small numbers. Though he spoke to multitudes, Jesus had 12 disciples. What lonely, confused and vulnerable Christians are looking for is real relationships which go away beyond the "How are you?" Fine."
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